Rise and Shiny: Runes of Magic

Runes of Magic screenshot

I first played Runes of Magic a long time ago, as in years. In fact, I played it a bit during beta and right after release. I have a fond memory of being on a voice program with our very own Shawn Schuster and a few other podcasters and bloggers as we ran around playing. I named my character something to do with Slayer, or perhaps that was Shawn, and we had a pretty good time. It was, at the time, one of the higher-quality free-to-play titles out there.

Since then the game has undergone many, many changes -- too many changes to recap here. If you really want a summary of the game over the past few years, check out our own Jeremy Stratton's former column, Lost Pages of Taborea. I had Jeremy join me for my last night of gameplay before writing this piece to help clear up some confusion I had about the game.

And for some powerelveling. Oh yes, powerleveling.

Runes of Magic screenshot

Runes of Magic is an MMO that really takes quite a bit of dedication to figure out. I am a casual player in almost every sense of the word, and my casual play is needed for work, but it's also a bit disheartening. I want to understand everything there is to know about such a deep title like Runes of Magic. Why does my in-game house no longer require energy to stay open, when before I had to spend real money on it to keep it going? Why do I have so many of these runes in my backpack? Why does the cash shop have more than one type of currency? What the heck is a ruby and why isn't it like a diamond?

Jeremy helped answer some of my questions, but as soon as we started playing together, we succumbed to that classic trap of chatting about all sorts of things while grinding. We chatted about work, about each other's lives, where we lived, how we played... it was all fun and reminded me just how and why grinding has become such a normal thing for players especially while in groups. Grinding is actually more fun if you are trying to have a chat. If you're busy figuring out which monster to use special attacks on or where to go while in a secret dungeon, the conversation can wane. It becomes raiding or serious grinding as soon as the conversation switches to tactics.

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Jeremy and I had a blast for a few hours while he powerleveled my character from 1 to 20 in about two hours. Yes, you can still do this in Runes of Magic, and I love the game for it. It's a great way for friends to catch each other up to one another and reminds me of old-school powerleveling. Sure, some hardcore, grumpy MMO player might raise his fist at the screen to yell, "That's what's ruining MMOs today!" but frankly if I cared that much about what other players thought, I wouldn't powerlevel in the first place.

Jeremy did help me figure out that rubies are bonus gems that a player can get when buying diamonds. Diamonds are cash-shop funds that are paid for with real money. The rubies are used for other items and act as incentive for players to spend as much as possible. Want a bunch of extra rubies to spend in the special ruby cash shop? Well, spend more on diamonds and the bonus goes up. Brilliant move, if you ask me.

The runes in the backback are used for several different things, generally in the transmogrifer, a device that combines different runes and dispenses soft drinks. I think. Honestly I was having too much fun running around and killing level 61 monsters to care about the runes, but they are an important source of stat adjustment and equipment tweaking, from what I understand.

Runes of Magic screenshot

I did play on my original character, the one I made way back when the game first started. He sports a purplish mohawk and massive feet, something I made sure to include. He's a bit goofy-looking, but that's OK. He's also a stabby sort of guy who has spent a lot of his time using objects that have been given to him by NPCs. I made him grab bunches of grass to feed to animals so that in turn I could milk them. I made him capture a red crab with a special lasso that seemed to glitch out in the end so I could not turn in the quest. Then I made him mine and harvest quite a few bushels of different things. There's crafting to be done, houses to decorate (a very robust system), beautiful music, crisp graphics that run well, funny characters, and tons and tons of goodies in the cash shop.

I saw nowhere near the amount of content that Jeremy has seen, even after these years of playing the game on and off. There are so many systems and so much content -- much of it in the form of standard quests -- that it can be quite overwhelming. I traveled around a bit using special portals that are protected by some sort of human-dog hybrid and toured a magnificent city before I got lost. I ran through the dwarven newbie area, a very long series of beginner quests that I've still yet to complete. I plan to, though... it's a very well-done area.

The point is that Runes of Magic is still a massive game with a ton of things to do. I am not a grinder (unless with a friend) and certainly not someone who enjoys just crafting or questing. I like a bit of all of the above. Runes of Magic is even good for explorers, although you have to watch out for mobs that will smack you dead. I'd also recommend joining up with a guild or finding a guide. Not only can they show you around, but they might be able to power-level you just a bit. That's always a good thing.

Next week I will be looking at Taikodom, a space-shooter that I could swear I played years ago. Even so, I'm playing it next week and streaming it live on Monday, the 12th of November, at 5:00 p.m. EDT right here on our livestream channel!

Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!